Never in the history of the world has the rate at which new information is created increased
so rapidly. According to a study done at the University of California-Berkeley, "the amount of
new information stored on paper, film, magnetic and optical media has roughly doubled in the
last three year." The study estimates that about, "Five exabytes of new informationroughly five
billion gigabyteswas created in 2002 alone." How can one keep up with the rapid increase in
One of the many uses of the computer is for e-learning. Derek Shockley defines e-leaning as,
"The delivery of a learning, training or education program by electronic means." Therefore
e-learning can involve a computer, cell phone, television and DVD play, etc. The new way of
learning goes beyond the classroom and textbooks to make use of the latest technology to teach
people in a variety of settings with a variety of methods.
E-learning can be divided into 3 main categories: computer based teaching (CBT), distance
learners and their tutors, and finally classroom instruction online. The first category is a method
where the learner learns at his or her own pace. The material has all been prepared ahead of time
and is available on a CD-ROM or via the Internet through a browser. Some examples of this type
of learning include: children's educational software, on-line tutorials, searchable reference
The second method, distance learning, allows the student to communicate with a real person.
This person is usually knowledgeable in the area of study and can be contacted through an
Internet chat session, e-mail, telephone, etc. This method usually includes some kind of
self-study component, but the learner is periodically in contact with someone else who assesses
their progress, answers questions the learner has and may provide extra motivation for learning.
Some examples of this type of e-learning include: an e-mail based study program where one
lesson must be completed before receiving the next one, a home schooling program where a
teacher receive completed lessons by e-mail for evaluation, and so on.
The third method can be described as a virtual classroom. The students that make up the class
are physically separate, but are again connected through some electronic medium like a satellite
link, the Internet, etc. Some examples include: video conferencing, a satellite broadcasted training
program, etc. Within each category, one can find many different environments to provide this
learning opportunity. As technology advances, more e-learning possibilities will become available.
What advantages does e-learning have over more traditional forms of education? Since
e-learning is usually electronic, it's much easier to update and distribute than a textbook for
example. Also, one presenter is able to "teach" many students in different locations and at
different times in some cases. Although the initial development costs for a good course can be
costly, the maintenance and distribution costs are not as expensive. The transportation costs, and
course fees for a traditional several-day course are often much more expensive.
The concept of e-learning, however, is still relatively new. A poorly designed course will not keep
a person's attention for very long. It's been reported that between 20%~50%
of distance learners don't finish the courses they have started. A pre-prepared course cannot
adjust to the level and interests of the students as easily as a good teach can. Although, a well
designed course can tailor the material to the level and interest of each student to a certain degree.
The biggest obstacle to e-learning, however, is the mindset of the individual as well as high level
management. People are still willing to pay 2,000 USD for a 3-day course with a live instructor
than to pay a fraction of the cost to cover the same material through e-learning on the Internet.
What will e-learning look like in another 5, 10 or even 15 years? As technology develops
and the tools to develop quality e-learning courses evolve, one can expect to see an even greater
emphasis on e-learning in the future. Some of the technologies currently being perfected include
things like teleconferencing with a holographic display (3D realistic image using light) of the
student and instructor together. In the future learners will put on special LCD goggles and use
haptic (touch) technologies to give the feeling of actually being in a real situation to learn a
particular skill. Faster Internet speeds and more powerful computers will provide more realistic
multimedia applications to stimulate learners. More experience with e-learning courses will also
provide higher quality courses in the future.
Learning cannot be limited to the first 20 years of one’s life. With the constantly changing
environment we live in, learning is something that needs to happen regularly for our entire
lifetime. Whether you need to learn a new programming language or want to know how to grow
roses, the relatively new world of e-learning will provide you with many opportunities to expand
your knowledge. Go ahead and learn something new today!
1, tutor ['tju:tə]
2, pace [peis]
3, obstacle ['ɔbstəkl]
4, mindset ['maindset]
5, evolve [i'vɔlv]
6, haptic ['hæptik]